Alameda, California

Collaborating for success

The success of any architectural firm can be traced to two primary strengths: an inherent understanding of the client's program requirements and the vision to creatively resolve concerns in a strong collaborative process.

When MBH Architects was established in 1989, the founding principals already possessed a wealth of experience in the collaborative process with their previous work at a world-renowned architectural firm. Since that time their knowledge of building processes has served MBH and its major retail clients well throughout numerous complex assignments.

Alameda, Calif.-based MBH has developed a strong collaborative process involving the clients at a project's inception to become part of developing its initial vision. This practice has been especially beneficial in the planning of mixed-use town centers which incorporate a multitude of differing building types and uses. “Solving today's complex and competing project goals is much more effective when the team jointly evaluates and prioritizes its options up front,” reports Raul Anziani, director of MBH's Urban Solutions Studio. “Design charettes allow the stakeholders to share in a common vision.” The success of this process is in creating living communities that balance the combination of a tightly woven mix of shopping, work environments, entertainment, homes, open spaces and circulation.

In the design of town centers, MBH has assembled an impressive group of architects, designers and urban planners to create the appropriate combination for developing dynamic and successful town center plans. In Perrysburg (metro Toledo), Ohio, MBH has designed the Town Center at Levis Commons. This signature project combines a neo-traditional townscape setting of lifestyle retail and local shops, renowned restaurants and cafes along with upper level office space centered around an active town green.

Traditional design elements inspired from Georgian, Federal, Italianate and Queen Anne architectural styles seen in the surrounding region are integral to the design and are a part of the local community's vision for this development. MBH provided additional assistance to the client beyond the design phase into project feasibility studies and retail leasing.

Existing downtown environments are especially challenging but can yield fantastic opportunities. In the heart of San Francisco's Union Square district, MBH has collaborated with our client to renovate and expand the famed Elevated Shops Building at Powell and O'Farrell Streets.

For this dense urban infill project MBH is developing a series of bold mixed-use concepts that will achieve both the visionary and financial goals of our client. Anziani explains, “Working with the client and leasing representatives over a two-day design charette was intense, yet exhilarating as the team reached consensus on the best solution to pursue.”

The collaboration between MBH and its clients has also been entrepreneurial as with the masterplanned redevelopment of downtown El Monte, California. MBH introduced the developers of two adjacent parcels to one another and both parties have decided to combine their prospective projects.

Working with The Festival Companies on a combination Main Street focused town center and retail power center plan, and Sonnenblick Del Rio on a civic center and office campus, MBH has created a new heart for El Monte's downtown with an integrated town center plan.